The uncle of the Boston bombing suspects said he believes his "radicalized" nephew Tamerlan Tsarnaev used his younger brother Dzhokhar.
Ruslan Tsarni told NBC’s Today Show his nephew Dzhokhar was "used by his older brother. He’s just another victim of his older brother. He victimized others, but he’s been used by his older brother."
Tsarni, who condemned the boys’ actions Friday while authorities were still searching for Dzhokhar, said he believes his nephews were part of larger scheme.
"I strongly believe they were just puppets and executors of something of bigger scale," Tsarni, who lives in a surburb of Washington D.C., told Savannah Guthrie.
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Tsarni’s brother and father of the two suspects, Anzor Tsarnev, said his sons were framed by police. Tsarni did not agree with that claim, but he did say he believe the boys were mentored.
“There certainly were mentors,’’ Tsarni said.
Tsarni said the boys grew up with him, in his own home. “Not with their parents. I know them,” he said.
He claimed he noticed changes in 26-year-old Tamerlan when he spoke with him in 2009. The radicalization of Tamerlan, who died in a shootout with police Friday morning, “shocked” his uncle.
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“I was shocked when I heard his words, his phrases, when every other word he starts sticking in words of God. I question what he’s doing for work, (and) he claimed he would just put everything in the will of God. It was a big concern to me.”
Tsarni claimed his nephew hadn’t just become a devout Muslim.
"It wasn’t devotion, it was something, as it’s called, being radicalized. Not understanding what he is talking (about). He is just using words for the sake of the words and not understanding the meaning of it.’’
He claimed a family acquaintance told him of an outside influence on Tamerlan that might have been responsible for his transformation. “He said there is someone who brainwashed him, some new convert to Islam,’’ Tsarni said. “I would like to stress (the acquaintance was) of Armenian descent.’’
He claimed these ideas were espoused to Tamerlan in the U.S., not in Russia, where he traveled last year. “It has nothing to do with Russia, (or) with Chechnya, which he had nothing to do with,’’ Tsarni said. “It started here.”
18-year-old Dzhokahar was found wounded inside a boat in Watertown, Mass., at 9 p.m. on Friday.
“I was relieved that he is alive,’’ Tsarni said. “At least he has a chance to ask for forgiveness for those that he victimized, as well as there is a chance now for enforcement agencies to get to the bottom of it.”
Tsarni said he was angry yesterday, when he told reporters his nephews were “losers.”
"For a 19-year-old kid, I do not even believe (that) he would (have) been in full comprehension of what he’s been doing,” Tsarni explained. “For the sake of seeking forgiveness for himself, I don’t know how long his life is going to be, but I know it will be way easier for him if he receives that forgiveness for those he made to suffer.''